For those of you waiting for more on my Italy trip, there will be more coming. But I wanted to hit on a couple of other things first.
A few days ago, I traveled up to my home town - Ft. Scott, KS - to take part in the 30 year reunion of my high school graduating class. The great class of 1977! Thirty years. That sounds like a long time ago.
It was a great weekend. There was a good turnout for the reunion. Fifty-six of us were there - over a third of our class. And we enjoyed the usual activities: the annual Homecoming Chili Feed, watching the Tigers win their homecoming game on the very last play, visiting with friends after the game at a local restaurant, and lunch the next day at Chicken Annie's. (No trip home is complete without a stop at Chicken Annie's.) It was great to visit with people who have been friends all of my life - from kindergarten and before. Some of them I keep up with on a pretty regular basis, but others I haven't seen in 30 years. Steve Wulz (who beat me out for Senior Class President in 1976) was one of those. We actually got back in touch with one another a few months ago through a former student of mine who now works with Steve in Dallas. Steve did a great job of tracking people down, contacting them, and putting the weekend together. Thanks, Steve!
Here are a few basic observations:
We're old! Or, at least, some of them are! We are all getting close to 50 and there was a lot of gray hair (and some no hair). There were thicker glasses and thicker "middles" on most of us. And as many of us are grandparents as aren't.
Though most of us have fond memories of our high school years, that isn't true of everyone. For some, high school was a hard and painful time. One of our classmates refused to come to any reunion activities because it was a painful time for her and she had no interest in spending time with some of the people who made it that way. I'm sure I'm one of those who didn't always make high school pleasant for some.
None of us probably ended up where we imagined we would be when we graduated in 1977. But that is the way life does us. Most of life is "Plan B" - those things that happen to you when "Plan A" doesn't. Contentment often comes in learning how to let go of "Plan A" and make the most of "Plan B." A corollary of this is that, "Plan A" is often our plan - the one that we think we can control and make happen. "Plan B" is often the one that God uses to make us trust him more.
Most of the "rougher edges" of our teen years have worn off. We seem to be a kinder, gentler, and more accepting bunch. There was a lot of visiting among old friends who ran around together in high school, but there was also a lot of visiting among people who weren't particularly close during those years. The old barriers and cliques didn't matter. I didn't sense anyone trying to impress the others. And I like the people with whom I graduated. My one regret from the weekend is that there wasn't more time to visit and talk with people I haven't seen in years.
None of us have made it through life unscathed. We have experienced financial hardships and failed marriages. We have lost children and parents and spouses to death. We have been hurt and we have hurt others. That is probably one thing that leveled the field and that broke down the walls. There was a sense of not only our common history as classmates but of our common experiences of life. There wasn't a need to pretend that we were something we weren't.
Steve gave me the chance to say a few words at Chicken Annie's. (Actually he asked me to pray for our class, but I snuck a few comments in.) I reminded the class that Ft. Scott was still home and that, even 30 years later, we were still a part of each others' lives. We all carry a piece of those years - and the people with whom we spent them - around with us all the time. Our classmates are a part of the tapestry of our lives.